Team goes west in search of wins

Erik Cassano and Erik Cassano

Next week’s spring break trip to Fresno, Calif. for the Pepsi/Johnny Quik Classic might as well be the season opener for the Bowling Green baseball team.

The Falcons have gotten just two of their first six scheduled games in, both losses, two weeks ago at Tennessee. The scheduled opener of the series in Knoxville was rained out, and BG didn’t even go to Dayton last weekend, as southern Ohio continued to dig out of one of the snowiest Februarys in recent history.

“The only thing we can do is get our guys ready to play,” BG coach Danny Schmitz said. “The rest is up to Mother Nature.”

Schmitz would be right to hope for better weather in mild central California, but the 10-day Fresno forecast at showed an increasing chance for rain as next week progresses. There is a 60-percent chance of precipitation on Thursday.

However, the Falcons will play as long as the skies let them. They are chomping at the bit.

“We have done just about everything we can do practicing inside,” pitching coach Tod Brown said. “We need to play some games.”

BG’s cabin fever is so acute, they are leaving for Fresno today, before the eight-team tournament starts, to play an additional game tomorrow against Pennsylvania. Schmitz said he will use nine pitchers in the game, one per inning.

The tournament brings a sampling of teams from all over the country. In addition to BG and Penn, Gonzaga, Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo, North Carolina-Asheville, Illinois State, Penn State and host Fresno State will be there.

The teams from the west will be at a sizable advantage in terms of games played. Gonzaga was 4-6, Fresno State was 4-10 and Cal Poly was 9-8 as of Monday. Cal Poly played at Fresno State Tuesday.

“We don’t have the advantage of playing exhibition games like other sports,” Schmitz said. “This is going to be our spring training, in a way. We need to go out there and play good baseball from the get-go.”

Kyle Knoblauch will be the starting pitcher in BG’s official tournament opener Monday against Gonzaga. Knoblauch is the only pitcher who will definitely be held out of tomorrow’s game. After Gonzaga, BG will play Tuesday against Cal Poly and Wednesday against UNC-Asheville. The results of the tournament’s first three days will determine BG’s opponents Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

Schmitz and Brown have not yet settled on starting pitchers after Knoblauch.

The new guy

Freshman Nolan Reimold was tabbed as a newcomer to watch in fall ball. He didn’t take long to live up to the hype, hitting a two-run homer in his second collegiate at-bat against Tennessee. The kid brother of BG basketball’s John Reimold has already drawn the lofty responsibility of protecting Kelly Hunt, BG’s biggest bat, in the lineup. Against a pair of Volunteer lefties, Hunt batted third and Reimold fourth. Both hit right-handed.

“I am definitely up for the challenge, batting behind Kelly,” Reimold said. “Hopefully, I can continue doing that.”

Reimold said his brother has eased his transition to becoming a collegiate athlete.

“John has helped a lot,” he said. “I see how he works at basketball and learn from him. I am glad he’s here to help me out.”


Senior lefty pitcher Doug Flere has struggled continuously since coming back from “Tommy John” surgery last year. It has gotten to the point that the BG coaching staff is experimenting with Flere in new roles.

Flere has been a starter for most of his career, but according to Brown, he will get a chance in the bullpen soon.

“We’re experimenting with everything right now,” Brown said. “This is something we’ve looked at from this past fall into winter.”